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Teachers Name: Danielle Wilson

Date: 2/26/15
Lesson Title: Evolution of M&Ms
Subject: Biology
Instruction time: 42 minutes
Students grade Level: 10th Grade

State Standard(s):
Species evolve over time. (S.912.LS.8)
Evolution is consequence of: population potential, genetic variability, finite resources and environmental selection.

Learning Objectives:
Students will be able to use inquiry and reasoning to explain what factors contribute to the evolution of a species.
Students will know that evolution of a species takes time.

Student Needs/Differentiation:
A student in the special education program will be paired with a student he enjoys working with in order to increase
his motivation.
Other students may receive extra support as I circulate around the room during individual and group work times. If
they are struggling to understand a question or task, I can reword it and use questioning strategies to help scaffold the
lesson better for them.
Some students will receive additional assistance from a resource teacher.

2-4 large bags M&Ms
Long roll of red paper to place on the floor
Small disposable bowls
M&Ms Survival Activity Sheet

Instructional method(s) used in this lesson:
Concrete to Abstract Activity
Think/Pair/Write/Share (the pairing is optional)

Lesson Sequence:

M&M Survival Activity:
Split students into groups of 2-3.
Tell students:
o Your group needs to collect 100 M&Ms from the main bag (and put them in a bowl). Were going to count the
different phenotypes (colors) in this population of M&Ms and record our data on a Google document so that we
have numbers for the whole class. (5-7 min)
o Now that we have some stats for this population of M&Ms, we will place them in a particular environment. Roll
out a large red paper on the floor. We will be tossing the M&Ms on top of this paper to place the population of
M&Ms in its environment. Once the M&Ms are placed on the paper, one of the group members will be a bird,
and his or her index finger and thumb will form a beak. Using one hand, you will try to hunt/collect as many
M&Ms as you can in two minutes (and put them in bowls). I will time you. (3 min)
o After you have done this, you will go back to the Google doc with your group, another group member will count
how many M&Ms you hunted/collected (for each color), and input the data on the document. Then another
group member will do the same for the M&Ms that survived (they will gather a portion of the M&Ms left on the
paper) and input the data on the Google doc. (5-7 min)
o The percent of the original that survived will populate in the appropriate box on the spreadsheet so students
can see which parts of their population were more successful at surviving. Likewise, the percent of the
original that were hunted will populate.
o Have students complete numbers one through three on the M&M Survival Activity sheet. Students may work
individually or in pairs. (5 min)
o Discuss student responses as a class and write abbreviated versions of their answers on the board. As they
suggest answers, put the abbreviated answers in one of four categories (with no title): population potential,
genetic variability, finite resources and environmental selection. (5 min)

1. Students should respond that the red M&Ms (secondarily the orange) survived best, because they
blended in with the paper (they were harder to see).
! 2. Students should say something like: having 6 different phenotypes or colors allowed the species to
survive better than if it only had two colors, because there were more chances for the species to
blend in.
! 3. Students should say something along the lines of: most of the following generations would be red
and orange. Some might say this is because red and orange M&Ms are more likely to have offspring
that are red and orange, and some might say that its because the birds would continue to eat
primarily the M&Ms that are other colors.
o Have students complete numbers four through six on the M&M Survival Activity sheet. Students may work
individually or in pairs. (5 min)
o Discuss student responses as a class. Continue to add to the four unlabeled categories. (5 min)
! 4. Students should be able to guess that the bird population would grow a lot.
! 5. Students might say that theres not enough space for them to keep growing to infinity. They would
run out of spaces on branches or ground to lay their nests. If they dont think about it on their own,
ask, What would happen to the food supply (the M&Ms)? Students should then be able to infer that
the food supply would run low and some of the birds would starve. Ask them, So what would happen
to the growth of the population at this point? Students should then be able to infer that the population
growth would level off.
! 6. Students should say that there wont be as many bears as birds, since birds reproduce better (they
have more offspring). You could take this even farther and ask students what would happen if a
small area of the forest burned down, and 3 bears and 3 birds died in the fire: How come, even though
the numbers are the same, this fire would affect the bear population much more than the bird
o After the ideas are on the board, arranged in their respective categories, add the titles: population potential,
genetic variability, finite resources and environmental selection. Suggest to the students that they should
write this down somewhere for future reference. Explain, When organisms are more successful at
reproducing, that has to do with the potential of a population to grow. When organisms are more successful
because they have different types of phenotypes (different physical traits), this is called genetic variability. When
resources in an environment limit the potential growth of a population, this is called finite resources (the
opposite of infinite resources). And when an environment causes selection of a certain subset of species (species
with specific physical traits), this is called environmental selection. These four factors are what drive evolution.
Write Contributing Factors of Evolution at the top of the board. (3 minutes)
Closure of the Lesson:
Ask students, What questions do you have about the four factors that drive evolution? (5 min)
If time remains, ask students, Why do you think it was important to gather so much data? To what extent does the data
tell you the answers? Students will probably say that more data helps you get more accurate results. They might think
that data tells you a lot. If they say this, you can respond, What does data NOT tell you? And they should be able to say
that data doesnt tell you much about the nature of things. Data is analyzed by people, and that is how we draw
conclusions about nature.
Hand out the article about Darwin from The Science Behind the Story. Put students into groups of four, tell them to
number themselves from 1 to 4 and to read the section of the article that correlates to their number. Include the strip
of paper with additional instructions and give students a chance to glance over it. This will be their homework for
tomorrow. Tell them that for the question regarding how the four contributing factors show up in the story, they
must use the terms in complete sentences, paying attention to syntax. Give them an example of this.

Check(s) for understanding and scaffolding of student learning
As students work individually or in pairs on the worksheet, I will walk around and listen in on student conversations
and spur on their thinking through questioning strategies.
Some assessment of student understanding will come during the whole class discussion.
I will check students worksheets before they leave the class.

Bridge to next lesson
Students will complete the reading assignment for: Darwin: A Gentle Revolutionary, a modified article from The Story
Behind The Science, that will prepare them to discuss the history surrounding evolution during tomorrows lesson.